So, you’re enlightened! You understand the potential damaging impact of gender stereotypes on children, which is why you’re on my website, looking at bright unisex kids clothing, and reading this blog! (Thank you, by the way.) I’m preaching to the converted…
But what do you do about other people? Kind-hearted family and friends who insist on buying very gendered clothing that doesn’t fit with the way you want to parent. Or worse, people who make comments about your child’s clothing/ hair/ toys in front of them. It could be as simple as commenting that a girl is wearing ‘boy pants’ (I know pants are a big issue for parents as many feel that the options for girls are smaller, less comfortable or too frilly) or suggesting a boy needs a haircut.
When I was pregnant with my son, we choose not to know the sex before birth. When he was born, we had lots of lovely gifts of clothes from family, but they were nearly all blue! Don’t get me wrong, I was very grateful for the presents, and I’m sure it was partly driven by the lack of variety on the high street, but it left me crying out for a bright orange vest or a red top or something so he wasn’t dressed head to toe in a single colour! This was another key moment in my decision to create Beeboobuzz.
But I digress… The comments from family and friends might be well-intended, or just mis-guided, but what do you say or do and how do you handle it? Both in terms of broaching it with the family member to ask them to respect your parenting style and speaking to your child to ensure they aren’t confused? It can be really tricky to protect your child from stereotypes, while also respecting family dynamics.
This was a conversation that came up in a chat group with some of my customers the other day and it’s always a challenge to deal with. I’m afraid I don’t have any answers on this occasion, but I am interested to hear what you think.
The consensus seemed to be to speak to people about how you want to parent your child/ children and asking the relative/ friend not to buy certain things, and not to make comments in front of your child. This seems to be the biggest issue as children can sometimes be easily influenced by an off-hand comment from someone they love and look up to.
If appropriate, you can also send links to research or blogs that support your perspective. I guess sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Some people will be able to listen to your perspective and try to understand and adjust their behaviour, whilst others will find that more challenging.
I’d love to know if you have any success stories or any tips on how others can deal with this! Please let me know.
I used to try and explain to my mum how I parent, but she just doesn’t get it, she thinks I am weird!! I used to get really annoyed with her but now I have accepted she is not going to change no matter how hard I try.
Rather than use up energy trying to get her to understand, I focus my time talking to my children. Now they are older we have discussions during bedtime about what Nanny said or did or bought them and why we don’t do, say or buy those things.
Sometimes my children ask for things I don’t agree with, such as plastic toys or a McDonalds. They know my views but I will not force them onto my children. It is such a difficult balance between doing what I think is right for the environment/humanity vs connection with my children and not making them feel guilty about things they like.
I feel it is definitely a challenge and personal approach based on your own parenting style and beliefs.